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Topic of the week: 4 more years for Gray?

On Monday, DC Mayor Vincent Gray said he will seek a second term. He joins an already crowded field, which will make for a very interesting race. But there's also the question of how Gray has done as mayor.

Photo by AFGE on Flickr.

What are his biggest accomplishments? What are his biggest disappointments? And does he deserve a second term? Our contributors weigh in:

Dan Malouff:
On transportation, Gray has been OK but not perfect. He's done a good job moving the streetcar program forward, but progress on bike infrastructure has moved much more slowly than it did under Fenty. He'd be a low risk/moderate reward choice for a second term. We'd know that we'd be getting someone who basically advances our goals, but maybe not as quickly as a more progressive candidate might. On land use planning, he's worth voting for just to keep Harriet Tregoning on the job.

Malcolm Kenton:
One Gray accomplishment that I'm fond of is the Vision for a Sustainable DC, which cuts across departments and agencies and sets aggressive goals for emissions reduction and restoration of clean waters and healthy ecosystems. It remains to be seen how aggressively Gray will implement the plan and whether each department will receive adequate funding for their share of the work, but the plan is a significant step in the right direction.

I also applaud Gray for sticking with the streetcar plan despite opposition from many corners, including many voters who supported him.

However, I am unhappy with Gray's positions on minimum wage and labor standards issues. The majority of the Council is ahead of him there. I supported the Large Retailer Accountability Act and am dismayed that Gray vetoed it.

Erin McAuliff:
I think Gray and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services BB Otero have made great headway in planning, laying out a vision and foundation that moves DC in the right direction (Sustainable DC and Age Friendly DC are my two big ones).

We will have to wait and see, though, how implementation plays out (as Malcolm mentioned) either through Gray in a second term or through a newly elected administration that could turn all of that good work on its head. I'm inclined to say he deserves a second term because it's a better bet for successful implementation. But maybe I would also support a candidate that recognizes those accomplishments and is highly committed to being an implementer.

Matt Malinowski:
Although "One City" sometimes gets short shrift, Mayor Gray has done much to fill the slogan with meaning. The One City Summit, held in early 2012, brought 1800 residents to the Washington Convention Center.

It was actually successful at getting the participants to work together in diverse groups to identify the priorities for government services and the future of the city. Participants became engaged while educating themselves about the trade-offs of various policies, such as how new business attraction may drive out existing small businesses.

Increasing sustainability and diversifying DC's economy while improving access to it were the big policy winners at the Summit. And Gray's administration has followed up, continuing its support for the Sustainable DC plan, promoting development at the St. Elizabeths site, and enabling continued growth city-wide through the MoveDC plan and relaxation of the Height Act.

Bringing Walmart to the District is a negative for sustainability and diversifying the economy. While improving the connections between education and jobs will take much more time, it is clear that Mayor Gray is not just continuing past policies on autopilot, but is asking hard questions about how the city and the region can succeed in the years ahead.

Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  


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Gray has no constituency. He sold competence and the promise of more attention to the black middle class. The first is gone in a cessspool of venality, and he hasn't really visibly delivered on the second.

by Crickey7 on Dec 5, 2013 1:55 pm • linkreport

I am astounded that any educated and informed resident of the District of Columbia (which this site has in spades) could possibly ever consider, even for the briefest of milliseconds, voting for that man again. Marion Barry is oft the subject of well deserved scorn and ridicule, and no one here would ever consider reelecting him to the office of Mayor, yet here we sit discussing another Gray administration.

The man personally, handpicked his campaign team. All of them quit in embarrassment, 4 of them having taken federal plea deals and or turned states evidence against him and publically admitting the books were cooked and the whole team was in on it. He was carried into office amidst the largest mayoral shadow campaign in the history of the United States, we are talking about a second term? There are two options. The first is that Gray knew about it, despite the protestations of his $1,000 dollar an hour legal team, or two, he really didn’t know how the dozen life long close friends and collegues (including the guy funding the enterprise), handpicked to run his campaign were doing the entire time.

Option 1, Gray is the felon many long-timers in DC knew him to be, or Option 2 means he is the absolute worst, most out of touch, mind numbingly daft manager since…ever.

Oh, then we have the ever enjoyable low rent Sulimon Brown who Gray clearly knew (txt messages from Grays personal phone) was on the campaign payroll (literally, he got paid) and gave him a six figure city job he was zipcodes away from being qualified for as reward so DC taxpayers could foot the bill…until it blew up in his face. Watching an episode of Jerry Springer was less galling than having Gray put the city through that crap.

What GGW should be doing is giving visibility to any / all of Gray’s competition, rather than giving him one more press inch of publicity.

Economically, the District is and has been on cruise control for more than a decade. Our fortunes are tied to the Federal government more than ever, which has been a boon for the District. Point is, Gray (and neither could Fenty) can’t take credit for one budget surplus dollar, or one additional resident who moved here. Every positive accomplishment (economically) would have occurred regardless of who was Mayor.

I seriously haven’t been as embarrassed to be a resident of the District of Columbia since Barry won his mayoral reelection after serving time. I thought that would be my embarrassment low point in the District, but Gray sprinted beyond it.

A vote for Gray is a vote for the lowest possible common denominator and nothing he has said or done since his disasterously embarrassing first year in office could ever possibly wipe the slate clean. We should be talking about all the other Mayoral options, because to anyone with a shred of self respect, Gray isn’t.

by Grayz4Maor on Dec 5, 2013 2:14 pm • linkreport

Gray's veto of the LRRA ended any interest I have in voting for him again. (Same for Wells, Bower and others for their stance on LRRA).

by Sam Farmer on Dec 5, 2013 2:33 pm • linkreport

While I'm also troubled by Gray's very real corruption, I'm thinking about voting for him BECAUSE he stood up to LRRA. Raising the minimum wage for everyone is a better, fairer way to effect that policy. Not a bait and switch because you don't like a particular retailer and are cozening up to union-ed competition.

I can't believe I'm sticking up for Walmart, but the contributors ought to put some specifics behind the claims that "they're not good for sustainability or economic diversity". To me, they provide retail options only otherwise available in the district at Target* --- biking to Walmart beats driving to Maryland for economic diversity.

And it's not right to claim without justification that they're a negative for sustainability. They have three laudable sustainability goals,including using 100% renewable power. They're doing something toward those goals. According to NREL, Walmart generates more solar power than 38 states. That's not nothing.

* Please don't suggest the downtown Macy's as comparable ... :)

by John on Dec 5, 2013 3:06 pm • linkreport

@Grayz4Maor, Can't agree more.

Grey was elected by a campaign team that was rotten to the core. Not only did he win with the rotten team he still won't answer questions about what happened in the election.

I don't understand why anyone thinks a guy elected through criminality should be re-elected.

Its not like we don't have a whole bunch of other very experienced candidates to choose from.

This is probably the strongest field of Mayoral candidates DC has ever had (something all of us should be proud of). With a Council that's faced so much corruption why re-elect a guy who won with all kinds of cheating.

by turtleshell on Dec 5, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

+1 Grayz4Mayor

He's a crook or stupid. (Probably a crook).

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 5, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

I am just itching for the live debates.

by SJE on Dec 5, 2013 3:38 pm • linkreport

He's back to claiming "I don't know how that happened!" with his campaign. Tom Sherwood reports that there were campaign petitions at a school event today. Grays says he was unaware and doesn't knwo how that happened.

Great way to kick off his re-election campaign, combined with the little gaffe of putting down a DC government number on his candidacy forms, eh? Integrity!

by Birdie on Dec 5, 2013 4:01 pm • linkreport

Grayz4Mayor is right on, and it's pretty embarrassing to be reading this post in a place like GGW. This blog was both tone-deaf and dead wrong in endorsing Gray back in 2010, and it seemed you all had taken that lesson to heart. This post suggests otherwise. The fact that you're willing to overlook rampant corruption and criminality is appalling, and the arguments basically boil down to "well, he hasn't screwed things up too much," which is a pretty low standard. Except the last one, who notes that Gray held a big summit in which people talked to each other. Oh good, that's super helpful, and has NO impact on the city whatsoever.

by Joe on Dec 5, 2013 4:08 pm • linkreport

Joe: it was DA, not GGW that endorsed Gray in 2010.

by SJE on Dec 5, 2013 4:41 pm • linkreport

@John I was tempted to not even reply to your post as the bulk of it represents shilling for Walmart. But I want to point out that Gray does not seem to be in favor the DC/MoCo/PG minimum wage increase to $11.50/hr. He's on record as not supporting any increase over $10/hr.

by dcmike on Dec 5, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

My favorite history teacher in college once told us that if you want to evaluate a president, compare their five biggest accomplishments to their five biggest mistakes. Looking at those list it should be clear how good they were. Doing that for Gray, but limiting it to 3:

3. Streetcar progress
2. Sustainable DC plan
1. Zoning Plan

3. DC United Stadium deal
2. Firing Gabe Klein
1. The corrupt 2010 campaign

I'm not sure where to put the WalMart Deal. Of course, 1 and 3 were continuations from Fenty. And 2 comes at the cost of cancelling Klein's aggressive transportation plan.

For me the answer on Gray is pretty clear, but maybe someone can come up with better lists.

by David C on Dec 5, 2013 6:08 pm • linkreport

Two years ago, Gray was off my list. I voted for Fenty. But Gray has impressed me in some respects. The sustainability DC plan is very good and something I fully support. Libraries are open longer, and the incubator/technology space at MLK is one of the most forward-looking ventures I've ever come across. We all have our pet issues. Although Gray pulled support for Internet/casino-type gambling in the District, I worry he could be convinced to back a new proposal.

When it comes to politics, I'm in the realpolitik camp. I'm not saying that I'm voting for Gray; I may or may not. But he is solidly on my list of people to consider for mayor. I think he offers a record to run against. What I will say is any opponent who focuses exclusively on Gray's 2010 election troubles will be off my list. What I'm interested in are good ideas for improving the District, and Gray has clearly offered some.

by kob on Dec 5, 2013 6:55 pm • linkreport

I guess my question would be, which of the announced and unannounced candidates would anyone prefer?

For me, I look at the current slate and much prefer status quo, despite the warts.

I am a big fan of the SustainableDC Plan. That was all under this administration. I see WeMoveDc as a positive, and Harriet Tregoning etc. He didn't kill the streetcar when it would have been politically easy to do so. Our city financial situation is much stronger than it was when Fenty left.

Look at the other candidates:
Bowser: what has she done and what does she stand for? I don't know, but platitudes and I am the female Fenty don't do it for me.
Wells: Great on Livable/Walkable, but there is more to running the city;
Evans: Great on financial management of the city, but his move on Glover Park is disturbing to me in terms of what he would do with more power.
Lewis and Shallal: No base or ability to really put a city wide campaign together.
Catania: There is more to Mayor than education and healthcare.

Bottom line, none of the other candidates have firsthand management experience, other than Shallal, who would be my first choice, were he viable.

by William on Dec 5, 2013 7:44 pm • linkreport

To Grayz4Maor, these are good points, but honestly, I think they're just symptomatic of greater of managerial ineptness. Gray's job is to govern the city, and he's doing a bad job.

I can't believe that GGR is focusing on bike lanes and streetcars. As an avid cyclist, I ought to care a lot about bike lanes. You know what I care about more? Having a functional tax office. Having a fire department and ambulance squad that doesn't let people die waiting for a response. Ambulances that don't spontaneously combust would be nice too. How about people not getting evicted from their homes because the tax office is stuck in the 14th century?

This is the stuff that matters. Not streetcars and bike lanes.

by Jon on Dec 5, 2013 9:03 pm • linkreport

Gray is a very typical DC candidate: mediocre in general, corrupt, easy to push around, and mostly lacking a strong vision or conviction.

Say about Fenty what you like, but he had a vision and he pushed the city that way. We need more people like that. He pushed, many people thought it was the wrong way, and he got booted. That's how democracy is supposed to work. It is, however, very sad to see that he was replaced by a mediocre placeholder.

by Jasper on Dec 5, 2013 9:04 pm • linkreport

I'm of two minds about Gray, but his opposition to the union-shilling LRAA and his support for the DC United stadium are solidly in the pro column from my perspective. I agree with others that his steadfast support of streetcars (since becoming mayor, anyway), his Sustainable DC plan, and his focus on diversifying our economy away from Federal reliance will pay huge long-term dividends for the city. Those are why I'll probably vote for him despite supporting Fenty last election.

However, I'm bothered by the fact that his election and subsequent replacement of strong leaders heading city agencies seems to have indicated to many city employees that they no longer need to concern themselves with serving the public competently or meeting a single deadline. It's anecdotal, but my interactions with DPR, DDOT, OTR, and other city agencies have been just pathetic since he took office. Contrast that with the Fenty years when I used to consistently defend city employees against Berry-era stereotypes because they were generally more helpful. Keeping Tregoning was a great move and Kaya Henderson has been generally competent - otherwise, this issue might have outweighed the positives.

by dno on Dec 5, 2013 10:07 pm • linkreport

Interesting that no one has mentioned that Gray is the only major candidate to support looking at the Height Act. All of his Council opponents have endorsed the resolution opposing any change in the Height Act. Another case of the Council punting on a home rule issue.

by Mr. Transit on Dec 5, 2013 10:11 pm • linkreport

@ DCMike ... Thanks for the information on minimum wage. Useful.

As for the rest of the post ... "I was tempted to not even reply" as it represents the kind of uncritical thinking I usually associate with conservatives attacking liberals. Since when does raising a legitimate question --- assertions were made without supporting facts --- equate to "shilling"?

Why bother to attack me if you won't at least address the fact I put out there? Walmart uses a lot of solar power. Cite:

by John on Dec 5, 2013 10:21 pm • linkreport

The Gray administration is as dirty as the day is long and most of his "accomplishments" are really either a direct result of Fenty's work/policies and or the continuation of same. Worst of all, his all out assault on special needs children and special education is nothing short of despicable. His Snidely Whiplash mustache is just a little too apropos.

by Greg Masucci on Dec 6, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

As a personal rule, the incumbent must be unique or extremely successful in their first term for my vote. (Not saying i support term limits per se.) This mayor is (not stupid) clever and a crook and for me that overshadows his paltry successes (some of which continued from the previous administration).

The first term is often about doing your best to be reelected, while building your machine. The second term is about getting that machine running. Given what we know about this man's campaign, history and friends and thankfully this Town has some acceptable challengers, we need to show this man the door.

by DCJWalker on Dec 6, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

Tough all around. I don't hate Gray, but I want a candidate I can like. Wells seemed good at first but nothing about his campaign seems grounded in the reality of running a city as complex as DC. Bowser seems all talk and not much substance. I can't imagine in what alternate reality Evans has a shot at winning unless it comes down to some kinda 5 way tie. At least we have another 11 months to hear how they all shake out. I seriously hope at least 2-3 of them drop out because a race with this many horses is liable to get weird.

by BTA on Dec 6, 2013 5:47 pm • linkreport

BTA, we don't have 11 months, we have 5 months. The primary is in April, and that's the race.

by David C on Dec 7, 2013 11:30 pm • linkreport

David C: If Gray wins the Dem primary, it could be very interesting. Catania will not be affected by the Dem primary, and would be one of the strongest non-Dem candidates in years. He could run on his long-standing anti-corruption message. If Gray is charged, Catania will probably win.

by SJE on Dec 8, 2013 9:02 pm • linkreport

Gray has done nothing to improve DC since taking office. The real issues that matter most have not improved whatsoever:

1. The unemployment rate is still double digits in Gray's own Ward 7 and in Wards 8 and 5.
2. Crime has gone up.
3. High school graduation rates declined to less than 60%.
4. Lost Intelsat and hundreds of its high-paid employees to Fairfax. But to him, Fairfax is not competition.
5. Conceding defeat on FBI moving with its thousands of employees.
6. First (small) segment of unnecessary streetcar line is millions over-budget and 2 years late.
7. Still no action by Tax Revision Commission.
8. No leadership on autonomy issues like height restrictions.

For all those who think Catania is somehow more ethical, think again. He's far more corrupt than Gray or even Evans, for all those who care to research. The only one from the Council who's running with clean hands is Bowser, and if her tenure on Metro's board is any indicator, she'll be an incompetent mayor.

by Burd on Dec 12, 2013 4:02 pm • linkreport


I think Wells has clean hands, if that's the issue that matters to you. And Bowser is not so clean...

by David C on Dec 12, 2013 4:45 pm • linkreport

@ David C

So Bowser took advantage of a loophole before she voted to close it...that doesn't constitute breaking the law.

Wells doesn't necessarily have "clean hands" either. If you look back to 2011, you'll find improprieties.

by Burd on Dec 19, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

Not breaking the law does not constitute clean hands.

If you have accusations about Wells than make them - and with support is better.

by David C on Dec 19, 2013 11:15 am • linkreport

@ David C

"Not breaking the law does not constitute clean hands."

That may be your opinion, but when did I say it constituted "clean hands" anyway?

"If you have accusations about Wells than make them - and with support is better."

Or, you can do your own research. But since I'm in a good mood, here's an article entitled "Wells Whistleblows but Dismisses Own Controversy":

by Burd on Dec 19, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

You realize that's an april fools story correct? Am I not supposed to be taking you seriously right now?

by drumz on Dec 19, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

OMG, that's hysterical. Your example of Wells misconduct is an April Fool's story. I guess I SHOULD do my own research. April Fools!

by David C on Dec 19, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

Jeez, no sense of humor at all. Do your own research!

by Burd on Dec 19, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport


by MLD on Dec 19, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

You're right. Wells was behind this controversial law.

"Do your own research" is another way of saying "I have no proof". I don't buy for a minute that your link was a joke. I think that really is the "improprieties" you were talking about. Pathetic.

by David C on Dec 19, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

@ David C

Good thing I don't care what you think!

I guess we all know who's got your vote!

by Burd on Dec 19, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

You care. I can feel it.

by David C on Dec 19, 2013 12:23 pm • linkreport

"How about people not getting evicted from their homes because the tax office is stuck in the 14th century?"

@ Jon,

EVERYONE currently with a seat at the Wilson Building is responsible for the tax office scheme to push poor and mainly African American residents out of DC.

Committee on Finance and Revenue:
Jack Evans
Muriel Bowser
David Catania
David Grosso
Marion Barry

Shallal should beat the crap out incumbents over this if he's seriously planning to win and not just performing some ego stunt.

by Homeless on Dec 26, 2013 10:09 pm • linkreport

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